If you struggle with weight loss, don’t beat yourself up. Over three-fourths of us are over our ideal body weight. Achieving a healthy body weight and staying there will look different for every person. It depends on your body composition and what motivates you to achieve goals.
This is the third installment of my weight-loss journey story. Today we’ll talk about the need to learn about yourself before you spend money on products, classes, memberships, or community. We’ll also talk about ideal body weight. It’s not the same for everyone.
My Journey to My Ideal Body Weight
“Did you join Weight-Watchers or Overeaters Anonymous?” my colleague asked.
“No,” I shook my head.
“Tell me your secret,” she insisted. “You look great!”
I shrugged. “I went on a low-carb diet and kept exercising.” I shared the title of the book I’d read, and wandered off, feeling good about my achievement. Losing sixty pounds had taken almost a year—about the same amount of time it took to gain it.
I joked that Pedro and I had swapped weights during his cancer battle. At the time of his diagnosis, he weighed 190. While he slowly gained back the weight he’d lost (he looked like an extra for Schindler’s List at 6’2” and 130 lbs.), I struggled with depression and the fact that I could scarcely walk a mile.
It took me almost a year to arrive at the place mentally where I could even think about regaining my ideal body weight. According to the charts and graphs, I had galloped past the overweight line and fit solidly in the obese category.
I hated my lack of energy and my inability to keep up with our girls. But it still took almost a year for me to muster the mental courage to start working on regaining my healthy body weight (190 lbs. for a 5’6” gal was NOT healthy).
Almost a year later, I had reached my ideal body weight (according to the charts I had gone back to a normal BMI). When my colleague asked how I had done it, I happily shared what I knew and forgot about it.
Until months later, when I noticed that my colleague hadn’t lost much weight and her sister-in-law reported that she was constantly cranky. I wondered why her experience differed so much from mine. After all, we had the same book.
Lesson in Weight Loss and Community
I learned two important lessons from that experience. We don’t all lose weight the same way. Gaining the support that we need looks different for each of us.
For some people, incremental changes over a long period of time produce the most lasting results. Other people need to see immediate progress in order to have the motivation to stick with something for the long haul.
Men gain and lose weight differently than women. Some people love joining a gym, while others prefer solo workouts. Most importantly, each of us needs to analyze what kind of support we would like during the process. If we don’t, we may end up wasting money on programs that won’t fit our needs.
Before you spend money on a gym membership or a join a weight-loss community, you’ll want to assess yourself to see what motivates you to achieve goals. Maybe you need community, maybe you don’t.
My Struggle with Community
“How are you surviving?” the school counselor asked me about two days into my husband’s business trip.
“Just fine,” I replied.
“You don’t miss Pedro?” he asked with a quizzical expression.
“Of course, I miss him,” I said, “but I actually enjoy having the house to myself and spending time alone.”
He looked dubious.
“Really. I once drove from Alaska to Arizona by myself and some days I only spoke to another person once. My voice felt a little rusty when I arrived home.”
That conversation sums up my need for community. As an introvert, I often find it difficult to find and participate in community. I don’t mind community—most of the time—but I have to have high motivation to participate.
I’ve joined countless training courses and classes (some paid, some free) that have Facebook groups and discovered that for the most part, I don’t visit the groups.
Once, I joined a small group that required members to use Voxer. I found it tedious and time-consuming to keep up with all the community-building activities. Standing on the fringes suits me just fine, I discovered. I’d prefer to have a ‘membership lite’ option where I don’t pay as much each month and just lurk.
The counselor’s question made me worry, though. Perhaps I had something wrong with me because I didn’t have
According to David McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory, our participation and success in achieving goals
What Drives You to Achieve Your Goals?
McClelland outlined three basic drives that we have to achieve goals (his studies involved the workplace, but we can apply them to other situations, too). Our drive to complete goals comes from our motivation to gain:
- Power (sub-divided into corporate power and personal power).
I fall into the ‘achievement’ motivation when it comes to my health. When I set difficult goals, such as running a marathon or half-marathon, I feel motivated to achieve my goal for the sheer pleasure of doing something difficult.
I choose training alone with a fitness tracker to keep tabs on my progress and provide feedback over joining a group of runners. The idea of exercising in a public place, such as a gym, depresses me.
Some people enjoy the affiliation of groups, though. Signing up for classes or doing exercise videos together motivates them. These people tend to enjoy collaboration but don’t like high-risk situations.
Power motivates still other people. They want to win for the sake of winning—and for the status and recognition it brings them.
Once you understand what drives you to achieve goals, you’ll make better use of your resources for achieving your ideal body weight.
A quick note on ideal body weight—‘ideal’ doesn’t mean that you’re model-skinny or elite-athlete buff. Your ideal body weight gives a measure of your overall health and ability to function the way God created you to function. Charts and graphs give estimates, but they don’t take into consideration the whole picture of you and what God created you to achieve.
As a Christian, I believe that part of serving God involves viewing my body as a temple—it’s not mine to trash. Nor should I make my health, eating habits, and ideal weight goals my god.
Do You NEED Community Support?
According to Sean Young, Ph.D. and author of Stick With It, community support plays a key role in making lasting changes in our lives. Those changes may include eating healthier, exercising more, streamlining our lives, or experiencing spiritual growth.
Despite my belief that I can accomplish things on my own (achievement goal motivated), community does have its place. For the past four months I’ve done my version of the ketogenic or keto diet. You can read about why I started the journey on this post.
The other morning, my pajama pants fell around my knees when I got out of bed. I figured that the cord in the waist had given out. It hadn’t. Even though some days I look in the mirror and don’t feel like I’ve lost twenty pounds, I guess I really have.
Even though my weight-loss journey falls into the achievement goal category, having someone to celebrate with would have been nice. The general Facebook population doesn’t need to know what I wear to bed, though. Nor have I announced to social media that I had a goal. The story (and celebration) feel too private for public consumption.
The right kind of community can help a person form new habits, achieve goals, and grow spiritually.
Community acts as a cocoon while we experience a metamorphosis in our lives. Members can encourage us when we struggle to rewrite our inner narrative.Community acts as a cocoon while we experience a metamorphosis in our lives. Members can encourage us when we struggle to rewrite our inner narrative. #FFL #weightloss #keto #selfcare #SelfCareSunday Click To Tweet
Community members can celebrate with us (the general population doesn’t care much when I purge junk food from my cupboards). They can hold us accountable as well as coach us when we feel stuck.
Most importantly, a community can lift us up in prayer as we struggle to make positive changes in our lives.
If You Identify as an Affiliation Achiever, Check This Out
Check out this link to my friend Sara’s new weight loss community if you:
- identify as an affiliation achiever.
- aren’t afraid of hard work (all weight loss and lifestyle habits require hard work).
- want accountability on your journey.
- seek to keep God central in your life.
- are ready for a journey that leads to a lasting ideal body weight.
You can find out more about the Faithful Finish Lines program here (affiliate link—I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you).